Not long ago, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) visited Beijing, where Wang and his delegation were received by Chinese Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu (孟建柱). The invitation and visit were an indication of the importance given to the Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime-Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance, signed by Taiwan and China in April last year. As expected, a wanted Taiwan High Court judge who was on the run in China was then repatriated to Taiwan early this month through the mutual judicial assistance mechanism. It seems that cross-strait cooperation on joint crime-fighting is about to enter a new era.
Cross-strait crime-fighting cooperation should continue and that it should go even deeper. Regardless of whether China becomes a haven for Taiwanese criminals or vice versa, social order, fairness and justice are at risk in both countries because of these criminal activities. Cross-strait crime is not limited to violent crime; it also includes white-collar crimes, drugs, theft and robbery, kidnapping and new types of fraud. These issues are of major public concern and the two governments should face and handle these criminal activities in an open, pragmatic and flexible manner.
Online fraud remains a concern in Taiwan today. One of the major reasons is the lack of a cross-strait cooperation mechanisms to deal with this type of crime. For example, there still isn’t a close cooperation model for crime related to telecommunications technologies, money remittances, criminal investigations and other key issues. In particular, the hard-earned money of victims cannot be recovered once they have been remitted to a Chinese bank.
In investigating such criminal cases, Taiwanese police normally are only able to arrest the low-end perpetrators who actually commit the crime, but they fail to stop the masterminds and break the whole network. The same crime is thus often committed again because after the convicts are released from prison, it is easy for them to organize another team and continue their criminal activities.
However, if the two governments are determined, it would not be difficult for them to resolve these kinds of technical problems. With the help of top police officials from both sides, it should be easy to find smooth solutions to many problems. The key issue is finding out how to create incentives to encourage investigators who handle cases in a scientific manner to contact or work with one another in cross-strait investigations.
However, for closer cooperation on cross-strait security, there are a number of obstacles to mutual trust that still must be removed.
These obstacles are basically all political. Cross-strait political cooperation and police cooperation have developed almost in step with each other. In the early stages, police units from both sides of the Strait mostly communicated through the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. The problem was that these two agencies were not police units responsible for social order and therefore their understanding of police affairs was lacking. As a result, they were ineffective when it came to fighting crime across the Strait.
Today, direct contact and cooperation between police on the two sides has been achieved. However, to remove further obstacles, Taiwanese and Chinese police units should expand exchanges and cooperation to bring about a comprehensive promotion of cross-strait crime-fighting and the fewer political considerations the better. In other words, smooth police cooperation is unlikely to happen without a good or at least stable political atmosphere.
Yang Yung-nane is the director of the department of political science at National Cheng Kung University.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
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